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112. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Possible Significance of PRC Invitation to U.S. Table Tennis Team to Visit China

At Tab A is a memorandum to you from State discussing the possible significance of the recent Chinese invitation to a U.S. Table Tennis Team to visit China.2 Its main points are as follows:

  • —The invitation to the U.S. Table Tennis Team to visit China is the first such extension of hospitality to any U.S. sports group since the Communists came to power in 1949.
  • —The invitation comes at a time when Peking is allowing increasing numbers of foreign visitors to enter China. It follows closely on our March 15 termination of the restriction on U.S. passports for travel to China. The Chinese invitation may be intended as a gesture in response to this and other U.S. initiatives.
  • —The primary significance of the invitation is its reflection of Peking’s openness and self-confidence in handling its foreign relations. This is part of Peking’s effort to present an agreeable face to the world in its drive to gain entry into the UN this autumn.
  • —The possibility of Peking allowing Senators Javits and Mansfield to visit China may also be seen as part of Peking’s “smiles” diplomacy.

Comment. The Chinese may also anticipate that these visits may result in further criticism of Administration policy (Mansfield, for example, would be calling on Sihanouk).

Senator Javits has been keeping State informed of his efforts through the Norwegian Ambassador in Peking to gain entry to China. [Page 290]The Chinese reacted positively to the Norwegian Ambassador’s approach on behalf of Javits but have not yet replied.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 521, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. VI. Secret. Sent for information. The attached NSC Correspondence Profile indicates that the memorandum was “Noted by HAK.”
  2. Attached but not printed is an April 7 1-page memorandum from Eliot t. Kissinger. Kissinger’s April 8 daily briefing memorandum informed the President of the April 7 invitation. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 32, President’s Daily Briefs) More information on White House involvement in the ping-pong team’s visit to the PRC is ibid., White House Special Files, Staff Member and Office Files, John A. Scali, Subject Files, Box 3.
  3. In telegram 869 from Oslo, March 24, the Embassy reported on a discussion between the Norwegian Ambassador to the PRC, Aalgaard, and Deputy Foreign Minister Chiao Kuan-hua. “Aalgaard mentioned Senator Javits’ wish to visit China. This aroused great interest. Chiao will himself take up this matter.” After receiving further information from the Department of State, Ambassador Crowe passed Javits’ itinerary to the Norwegians, who sent it to Aalgaard in Beijing. The plans for Javits’ visit went no further than the planning stage. (Telegram 869 and telegram 1385 from Oslo, May 13; are both ibid., Box 698, Country Files, Europe, Norway Vol. I) More information on Javits’ attempts to visit the PRC is ibid., Box 819, Name Files, Senator Javits.